After what you could fairly describe as a “poor” performance when the Manchester volleyball team was swept earlier in the week at North Adams in convincing fashion, the Greyhounds turned it around Thursday night against Peebles.
The Lady Hounds swept Peebles in three sets – 26-24, 26-24 and 25-15.
Manchester senior Morgan Johnson looked like she was everywhere on the court as she racked up kill after kill against a Peebles defense that in the end couldn’t keep up in the third set against the, at times, single attacker offensive onslaught.
“Johnson was very ‘on’ this game,” Manchester Head Coach Tabitha Spires said. “She ended up with 26 or 28 kills this game. She can hit from anywhere on the floor. If she gets a good set you can’t dig it out of the ground. She’s also got one of the best serves and she’s just phenomenal.”
That “on-ness” light switch wasn’t flipped upright when the game started when Peebles jumped out to a 6-2 lead in the first set. Manchester would immediately respond with a run to bring the score to 10-8 in their favor, but Spires wasn’t quite sure which team was going to show up in the early going, the team who won three games in three days earlier in the season, or the team who got swept by North Adams.
“This was a little better than the North Adams game,” Spires said. “We came out not ready to play at all against Peebles and then they did finish strong with a couple of kills and digs but at the beginning I didn’t know if we were going to play any better than at North Adams or not. But Summer Wilbur started figuring out what she was doing wrong and they started hustling and we got it back together and finished up with a win.”
The first set saw the lead sway back and forth multiple times before a soft kill by the Greyhounds saw the set come to a close in their favor after going to extra points and the second set was nearly parallel to the first.
Peebles jumped out once again to healthy 5-1 and 10-5 leads, looking to be in control. But Manchester came roaring back again to take a 12-11 lead and force Peebles to call a timeout and regroup. The teams once again traded the lead back and forth and it looked as if Peebles was going to squeak by when Lady Indians’ senior Hayley Rolfe served up an ace to take a 23-22 lead but once again Johnson was the one leading Manchester down the stretch.
Johnson buried a kill to tie the set at 24 and the set finally belonged to Manchester after a block at the net and another Johnson kill gave the Lady Hounds the second set.
Johnson’s assassin-like skills showed up early in the third set as well when she found the ground for two more kills to open up the set and another a few points later to give the Greyhounds an 8-3 advantage. Peebles came roaring back to bring the score close with Manchester leading 11-10, forcing Spires to call a timeout.
“I’m a nail biter so it makes me very nervous but I have faith in them and I have confidence in them and I know they can do it so it’s my job to get the timeout called, get them going again and then give them motivation,” Spires said. “We have an excellent team and they’ve just got to want to do it.”
The Indians found the most success coming out of the timeout initially as they grabbed a 14-13 lead after a tip over the net found the floor, but that was as about as far as they would go as Manchester found their groove and didn’t let up.
Wilbur tipped over the net for a 17-15 lead and a thunderous kill by Johnson that hit off a Peebles player and into the stands stretched that lead to 19-15. Another kill by Johnson got it to 22-15 and it wasn’t until the game was beyond all reasonable doubt that Peebles called timeout at 24-15. The next serve Peebles returned with a ball that landed out and Manchester went home with the sweep.
Spires said she saw her team go through a roller coaster of emotions throughout the game, which when confidence is high, can lead to a more dangerous team. But when the morale is low, according to Spires, the team’s performance is directly correlated.
“With North Adams they thought going in ‘We’re not going to win this game.’ so that’s how we came out – scared to death,” Spires said. “They do play better when they do have confidence in themselves. They get down on themselves too though. Morgan Johnson will be the first one to get down on herself because she is so athletic and she is so talented. But you just got to cheer her back up and get her going again. And the whole team if they’re doing stuff wrong they’ll get down but somehow they managed to get themselves back up tonight.”
Reach Charles Grove at 937-544-2391 or firstname.lastname@example.org.